Good word: “echt”. I had to look it up.
Adjective: authentic and typical. EG: “Bart was an echt baseball fan”
The adjective was used to describe a wine that I haven’t tasted: “Ne Oublie,” – Graham’s recently-released 130 year-old tawny – after my comment: “mmm” on a similar release by Taylor – the 1863 Single Harvest. My note on the Taylor wine is at the bottom. And, no, I don’t know what authenticity or typicity taste like as far as 130 year-old tawny Ports are concerned.
My professional accomplice – I still haven’t come up with a nickname for her that really works – has asked me a few times what sort of wine I really like. I initially thought this an odd question: wasn’t it obvious? The answer is that I like authentic wines that speak of a place, have a typicity to them. I like “echt”.
Latour, for example, is “echt”. This is noble soil, and you can taste it in the wine. There is a breeding to Latour – something patrician – and you can taste it. There is almost invariably a graphite edge to Latour, a gravelliness. A regal austerity. As Mister B. says, in a line that you can’t help but steal: “Latour is first and foremost Latour”.
At the same time, Pavie is “echt”. Why? Because it tastes of Pavie. Taste young Pavie and you know that the bathroom fittings are fashioned from gold. I still have my Bulgari handwipe. It may not be authentic and typical St Emilion but, let’s face it: no one knows what St Emilion is supposed to taste like anyway.
Even what I might describe as “late JGP Cos”, the paradigm of which is 2009 Cos d’Estournel, is “echt”. If a winemaker and his wine are conjoined – a bit like dogs looking like their owners – then the precision, flamboyance and turbo-charged, blatant, point-chasing that is 2009 Cos is, well, echt. It’s the translation, the expression, of an era. It’s more than just the paint, it’s the artist and what he did with it.
My point here is that, whilst typicity and authenticity aren’t necessarily subjective, one does need some objective goalposts. Put simply: what is something supposed to taste like? What is an 1863 Tawny supposed to taste like?